Review – From Jail to Paycheck

From Prison to Paycheck: What Nobody Tells You About Getting a Job, Pam Hogan, 2007, ISBN 9780979429491

Among the many challenges faced by those just released from prison is finding a job. Those with jobs are much more likely not to go to prison than those without. This book tries to make that challenge less challenging.

Think of a resume as equivalent to a business card. Necessary; the book exactly how to write it. For those whose work history is spotty or non-existent, register with a temporary agency. Having a variety of jobs will help you narrow down the type of jobs you want (or don’t want), give you experience to put on a resume, and the paycheck doesn’t hurt. Volunteering is another way to gain experience to put on a resume. Orient your resume to different types of positions. A resume that highlights your experience as a landscape gardener will be of little help in applying for a security guard position.

Treat your job search like a full-time job. Read the advertisements online or in the newspaper carefully. If it says, for example, “no phone calls” or “apply in person,” follow it. If your qualifications don’t exactly match the requirements, ask for an interview anyway. The more job interview experience you can get, the better off you will be. You have to be there every day, filling out applications and leaving resumes.

The book goes through the job interview process, including a list of questions the interviewer will ask. Practice the answers to these questions ahead of time, so that you sound confident and “with it,” rather than hesitant and unsure of yourself.

At some point, the question will be asked: Have you ever been convicted of a felony? Don’t lie, because eventually the truth will come out, but you don’t have to include all the details. If that part of your life will honestly never come back, find a way to say it. The book gives some suggested answers.

This book does a good job of making the job search process as painless as possible. It’s not only good for those who just got out of prison, but also for those whose work history is less than stellar.

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